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Shattered: £500M Crystal Palace rebuild plan

Proposals to rebuild the historic Crystal Palace lie in pieces, after Bromley Council cancelled an exclusivity agreement with a Chinese developer.

In October 2013, ZhongRong Group had unveiled the ambitious £500M plan to reconstruct the steel and glass structure on the same site in south London where the original building burnt down in 1936.

The firm was granted a 16-month exclusivity agreement with Bromley to develop its plans.

This expired on 1 February, prompting the local authority to write to ZhongRong, giving them until 20 February to “agree to a number of financial and business planning-related conditions prior to the council considering the renewal of an exclusivity agreement”.

With this deadline having passed, Bromley has confirmed it has cancelled the agreement.

Council leader Stephen Carr said: “There is a major opportunity here to do something that might really improve the park and provide much needed regeneration locally too.

“This was why we were prepared to properly listen to what ZhongRong had to say but we were never going to simply say yes to absolutely anything as we need to get this right.”

The centrepiece of ZhongRong’s plan was a ‘reimagined’ 500m-long and 50m-tall, steel-and-glass building, based on the original Crystal Palace, built in 1854 on Sydenham Hill. The scheme, which would be constructed in Crystal Palace Park, was to include a hotel and conference facilities, galleries and other commercial space.

The proposal had backing from Mayor of London Boris Johnson. In February 2014, Zhongrong had named a shortlist of six high-profile architects, including Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid, to develop the proposals.

The future of the scheme and the park are now unclear.

Carr said: “We will meet with community stakeholders as we have done all the way along this process to review options going forwards.

“Importantly too, we are continuing to progress plans to improve Crystal Palace Park with an investment in excess of £2M.”

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